Friday, August 28, 2015

US mass killings, global refugees: Capitalism in crisis

The murderer films his act
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

As is normally the case, the mass shootings that occur in the US at a rate unprecedented for a country not at war, not technically anyway, are explained away as psychological problems. Psychological problems they may be. But what causes them?

The latest occurred Wednesday in Roanoke Virginia as a man shot a news reporter and her cameraman as she was conducting an interview. The person she was interviewing was also shot but has survived.  He then posted a video of the event on Facebook and Twitter.

The perpetrator, who took his own life, is being described in the mass media as “deranged” a “mad gunman” as “angry”, and yet another person suffering from mental illness. The publishing of his “angry” history is already in full swing, plus, he was a religious nut and god told him to do it. In a statement the killer faxed to the news station he said it was a revenge killing for the black people killed in the church in Charleston in June.  “What sent me over the top…” he wrote, “was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.” 

Now the investigation in to this individual’s mental statebegins. “At some point in his life, it would appear things were spiraling out of control. But we’re still looking in to that.”, says the county’s sheriff.  In the video in the link above we are told the man was a "Malcontent" and that despite knowing about his troubled past they never realized "How deep the darkness ran".

The perpetrator was black, and gay.  Regardless of whether or not his claims of racial discrimination in this particular incident are valid, there’s no doubt he has experience it most of his life as a black, gay man.  It is not so much a personal issue that makes racism so destructive, it’s that it woven in to the fabric of US society, it is institutionalized.  How can the US 1% allow a serious discussion about that?  It heads down very slippery slope. 

And let’s not forget, much of this stuff is simply passed off as “gun violence”.  If we didn't have guns this wouldn't happen. Well if we didn't have racism it wouldn't happen and eliminating capitalism will begin to eliminate the madness and social alienation that is a result of it. "You can't have capitalism without racism",  Malcolm X warned.

Gun ownership has to be addressed. No serious person would object to background checks for firearm purchases or oppose checks that prevented the mentally ill or kids getting a hold of them.  But as I have mentioned before, we must not allow the issue of gun control to cloud the real cause of occurrences like these mass killings. Millions of people own guns in this country and kill no one.

What we are witnessing on a daily basis is not occurring because people have guns.  These killings are the end result of an economic system in crisis. Capitalism destroys our humanity, our future, it destroys human personal relations in the family no matter which family set up we are in. It does not nurture us; it destroys us. Racism, sexism, religious sectarianism, insecurity and perpetual warfare under the guise of fighting terrorism, is endemic to capitalism.

But the economic system, the objective world around us, work, society, and the insecurity of the so-called free market is never discussed. In short, our problems are all personal in nature; it’s a crisis of the individual.  What is a crisis of capitalist society is painted as a failure of the individual.

Let’s look at another capitalist crisis, the mass migration of people.  I commented earlier on the crisis that Macedonia faced as thousands of migrants swamped the Greek/Macedonian border, families with children, people sleeping in a field desperate to get to northern Europe and the prospect of a stable life. Just yesterday a truck full of decomposing bodies was discovered in Austria.  At this time of writing the death toll stands at 71, including young children.  The authorities say the victims suffocated. Apparently, there have been arrests.
Syrian migrants trying to enter Hungary from Serbia

Just a day before, Wednesday, the Swedish coast guard in a migrant rescue operation in the Mediterranean found 50 dead bodies in the hold of a “migrants’ boat” off the Libyan coast. It appears human traffickers have a tiered fee system where those with more money buy safer seats on deck. In early August another 40 died locked in the hull of a wooden migrants’ boat.  They, “died in a pool of water, fuel and human excrement,” according to the Italian navy.

In the wake of this crisis, right wing nationalist and fascist groups are waging a war against immigrants just like they are here in the US against those coming north through our southern borders.  Donald Trump, the racist and xenophobe is fueling this hatred. In Germany, neo Nazi violence is on the rise and last weekend there were three days of rioting by right wing ant-immigrant forces.  “There is no tolerance toward those who question the dignity of other people,” Angela Merkel tells Germans “The more people make this clear…the stronger we will be.”

“It’s shameful and repulsive what we had to witness,” Merkel said of the riots. But despite the appeals for morality, tolerance and calls to oppose xenophobia and anti-Muslim violence what is missing is any mention of why the migrants risk life and limb to leave their homeland.  Why the vast majority of them are Muslims give us a clue.

The images of thousands of Syrian migrants scrambling through barbed wire mesh on the Hungarian Serbian border this week are the lucky ones to have gotten that far. (image above).
That they're Syrians is also a clue as to why these people are risking their lives, the lives of their children and are willing to face abusive racial and religious hatred from racists and nationalists.

The cause of this mass migration to northern Europe is the result of polices drafted in the US. Look at the graph here and the nationalities applying for asylum. Are we to suppose that these people hate their home countries? It is the result of US capitalism’s imperialistic wars in the Middle East and Africa.  It is the result of centuries of direct colonial and now Imperialist intervention. Iraq is hardly recognizable as a state any more. US capitalism invaded Iraq without provocation. Iraq had done nothing to warrant it from a workers’ point of view.  Using 911 as an excuse, the handful of people behind the US invasion of Iraq are responsible for the deaths of millions of people and the destruction of a country. The so-called War on Terror is used as an excuse for the austerity measures we face at home. Blame the foreigners. Why are there so many Irish people in the US? They didn't want to leave their homelands either, they were driven out by British capitalism and its manufactured famine.

The Syrian crisis has the same roots as does the rise of Islamic fascism in the form of ISIS.  The US has been bombing this part of the world for the last 20 years. Prior to that it financed and armed the most despotic regimes the region and continues to do so in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The people behind US foreign policy are responsible for the recent migrant crisis in Europe. Along with them are the likes of former British PM Blair and the regimes that cling to US capitalism’s coattails. These social crises, from the daily mass killings in the US to the mass migration of human beings and the trafficking that accompanies it are directly related to capitalism and so-called free market.  But the mass media, owned by the same forces that are responsible for these crises, does not want us to think of these issues as the product of a social system, their social system.

I watched a film the other night, Who is Dayani Cristal?  The film is about the lifeless body of a Central American migrant found in the Arizona desert and the authorities' efforts to find out who he is and where he came from.  Economic migrants from Mexico and other parts of Central America face the same risks as the migrants fleeing the Middle East, rape, robbery and murder. They die of thirst and hunger or cold in the deserts or streets of the US. They are also killed by vigilantes on the US side.  This film is a decent film that follows the trail left by this Honduran man trying to feed his family but it too avoids the fundamental issue, that this global migration and refugee crisis, the existence of permanent tent cities housing millions of people cannot be solved within the framework of capitalism.  Consequently the viewer feels like there's nothing we can do.

The many statistics that boggle the mind of people outside the US, the murder rate, rape rate, mass killings and violence, the incarceration rate and the lack of compassion for those who have hit hard times, "It's their own damn fault". These statistics are not the product of some genetic trait peculiar to individuals living on this continent. It is because capital is very powerful here.  The working class has no party, never has has a national party.  The power of dead capital over living, of money over human beings is greater here.

US capitalism is in a serious political, economic and social crisis. It cannot continue.  Global capitalism is in crisis, the breaking up of nation states, the rise of Islamic fanaticism in the Middle East and Africa, the refugee problem and perhaps most of all the looming environmental catastrophe, these are all products of a social system in decay not of human character flaws. Hunger and poverty are not caused by too many babies being borne in India.

It is the crisis of the system of production we know as capitalism that we have to discuss. Only then can we come up with answers that will work.

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